Grilled rhubarb pie

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We were so fortunate to inherit our late neighbor, Walter Goodwin’s, rhubarb patch when we acquired his property across the road from us.   Mature, lush plants with tart apple-y flavored stalks, cooking with them are a throw back to gentler times now made trendy with the Slow Food eat-local movements.

IMG_0506In an effort to keep a cool kitchen on a warm day I devised this outdoor-grill version of the rhubarb custard pie that Walter’s wife Gladys made for him.  Late in his widower life at age 90 or so when troubled with diabetes, I made him sugar-free versions of this.  He agreed that the full sugar version was best in texture and flavor but “pie is pie” and he was happy to have it.  Try one for yourself before the rhubarb has gone to seed and has disappeared from the farmers market.

To create a heartier crust less likely to burn in the ebbing and flowing temperatures of the grill, this easy pat-in-the-pan crust works great.  Mix all together then press into a 9″ metal pan (Don’t use glass.  It will explode due to the nearly direct heat of the cooking process.)

  • 1 1/3 cups flour ( I used whole grain pastry wheat but you can use anything.  The gluten-free mixes work especially well with this pat-in-the-pan method)
  •  1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup + 1 T. vegetable oil (when oil is heated its flavor intensifies so use an oil that you like the flavor of; a mild olive or canola for example.  Also coconut oil that is very thick can work if you blend it in with a fork)
  • 1/4 cup cold milk (or almond, soy, rice milk)
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Press the dough into the pan only slightly up on the edges.  Less edges showing, less opportunity to burn.IMG_0504Put the pie crust in the refrigerator.  While it is chilling prepare the grill.  Scrape the grill to remove any food particles from previous use (or your pie can mildly taste like smoky grilled what-ever!)   Cover the surface with tin foil folding two pieces over themselves several times to form a larger sheet; this will catch drips and prevent flaming.  Place a grilling basket on top as a riser for the pie so it does not sit directly on the heat, close the lid and turn it on about 3/4 heat to get the temperature up to 400 degrees.DSC04536
Meanwhile, prepare your filling.  Mix all the following ingredients together:
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 T plus 2 tsp milk (any type OR soy, rice or almond milk can be substituted)
  • 2 cups sugar (or 3/4 cup non-sugar Truvia but note that the pie consistency with be a little spongey instead of custardy)
  • 1/4 cup flour (any kind)
  • 3/4 tsp  ground nutmeg
  • 4 cups finely sliced slender rhubarb or peeled & sliced thick rhubarbDSC04528DSC04532

Pour mixture into your chilled crust and add bits of butter (or coconut oil) on top.DSC04535Cover the edges of your pie with a commercial pie crust shield or do it by crimping tin foil around the edges.  Place your pie quickly into the preheated grill on the rack and close the lid.  You will note that each time the lid is raised the temperature will fall by 5 or 10 degrees but will reheat again.

Every 15 minutes, rotate the pie a 1/4 turn to assure even baking.  Adjust the grill if it gets too hot.  Total cooking time; around 50 minutes.  Remove pie when the center is set and let cool down before slicing.  YUM.DSC04541

NOTE: this custard pie recipe was first printed in an old Betty Crocker cookbook.  I have seen it reprinted in many farm stand cookbooks, church cooks books and claimed as a family original.  Thanks to who ever originated it in the first place….always a winner!

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